Why The 124 Spider, AKA The FIATA, Failed


The Fiat 124 Spider, aka the “FIATA”, has now been out of manufacturing for over a yr; and no person even seen. Fanatics referred to as it the “FIATA” as a result of it shares its platform with its extra widespread brother, the Mazda Miata. The Fiat Spider, which as soon as existed for twenty years from 1966 to 1985, didn’t final greater than 4 years this time round. When it was first launched, the Fiat Spider shared its class with the Alfa Romeo Spider, which lasted from 1966 to 1994.

So why did the 124 Spider with such sturdy pedigree fail to proceed the legacy of its Italian ancestors? The very fact of the matter is, the 124 Spider by no means had a preventing probability.

The Fiat Spider Has A Revered Historical past

Fiat spider 124

The Fiat 124 and Alfa Romeo Spiders debuted within the mid-sixties with revolutionary design and expertise. Each have been rear-wheel drive roadsters designed by Italian coach-builder Carrozzeria Pininfarina. They have been forward of their time with normal Twin Overhead Cam (DOHC) engines. The mixture of efficiency and styling made the Spiders standout as an reasonably priced various to gasoline guzzling American muscle vehicles. The manufacturing run lasted so lengthy as a result of enhancements have been made with each era. The engine dimension continued to develop, leading to extra energy whereas nonetheless remaining environment friendly.

Within the early 80s, Fiat rebranded the Spider by renaming it after its coach-builder Pininfarina. This rebranding technique was additionally utilized to Fiat’s different sports activities automotive, the X 1/9, renaming it after its coach-builder Bertone. Sadly for Fiat, altering the badge on the automotive did not result in extra gross sales. By 1985 the Spider was discontinued and on the finish of the last decade the X1/9 suffered the identical destiny.

The Finish And Beginning Of An Period

124 spider alfa romeo spider
Supply – Victor Troia

In 1986, Fiat bought Alfa Romeo and commenced to focus solely on its convertible from their newly acquired firm. Within the early 90s, Alfa Romeo redesigned their Spider for the fourth time in its twenty-eight years of existence. Whereas the brand new and improved 4th era design was an total hit for the Spider, it was no match for the brand new child on the block; The (NA) Mazda MX-5 Miata.

The Japanese roadster was extra environment friendly, dependable and cheaper than its Alfa Romeo counterpart. Gross sales of the Alfa Romeo Spider started to lower, and ultimately manufacturing ceased in 1994. That yr, the US noticed its closing rendition of the Italian roadster; the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Commemorative Version (CE).

The Italian Roadster Is Again… For Simply A Few Years

fiata 124 spider

Twenty-two years later and Fiat introduces an all new 124 Spider on the 2016 Los Angeles Auto present. Trying to capitalize on the Spider’s earlier success, Fiat fully reinvented the car. It was initially deliberate to be an Alfa Romeo, however as a result of Alfa is Fiat’s luxurious model, they determined to market the reasonably priced Spider as a Fiat. The FIATA shared the identical meeting line in Japan with the automotive that drove it out of enterprise 20 years earlier.

The important thing variations between the 124 Spider and the Mazda Miata was it’s styling and engine. The FIATA had a 1.4 liter turbo motor rated at 160 Horsepower and the Miata a naturally aspirated 2.0 rated at 155 HP. After three years of manufacturing, the Miata improved its engine in 2019 by growing efficiency to supply 181 HP. The FIATA however was at all times outfitted with its lag susceptible, turbo 1.4 liter engine. A motor that met effectivity requirements in Italy however doesn’t present that thrilling, linear efficiency you anticipate from a rear-wheel drive sports activities automotive.

Associated: This Is The Coolest Characteristic Of The Fiat 124 Spider

Disgrace On Fiat For Even Calling It An Abarth

Fiat 124 spider Abarth

The 124 Spider Abarth was simply as underwhelming, because it was extra of an look package deal moderately than a efficiency mannequin. The Abarth got here with some badging variations, a quad exhaust and a whopping 4 extra horsepower. When the Fiat 500 Abarth got here out, you felt an actual distinction in comparison with the usual 500. The exhaust notice sounded prefer it got here out of a Ferrari. Not solely that, it was extra highly effective and dealt with like a mini race automotive. The exhaust on the 124 Spider Abarth wasn’t almost as tuned because it was within the 500 Abarth.

In 2019, Fiat supplied an elective Report Monza Exhaust improve. The brand new exhaust system was definitely raspier and was effectively suited to an Italian roadster. Nevertheless, it was too late, the brand new exhaust ought to have been outfitted on the 124 Spider when it was first launched three years prior. Abarth, the tuning firm recognized for its customized exhausts and efficiency upgrades, could not save the 124 Spider from its imminent demise.

Associated: 9 Causes Why We Love The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

The 124 Spider Will At all times Dwell In The Mazda Miata’s Shadows

124 spider Mazda Miata fiata

The FIATA remained largely the identical for all 4 years it was in manufacturing. Whereas the extra dependable Miata improved its ND mannequin, not solely with a efficiency bump in horsepower however in styling too. In 2017, Mazda launched the favored Retractable Fastback (RF). A retractable laborious high convertible that offered extra of a “targa” fashion open air driving expertise.

The Mazda Miata has as soon as once more led to the termination of its roadster rival. Nevertheless, this time it didn’t kill off its twin brother by simply creating a greater performing engine. The Japanese roadster stays the very best in its class due to its long-standing historical past. The Miata’s manufacturing run is now occurring thirty plus years, surpassing that of the Spider. It’s recognized for being probably the most raced automotive on the planet, and on high of that it is dependable and reasonably priced. It has developed over time and has constantly been effectively acquired by fans and automotive journalists.

Fiat however has had horrible shopper opinions because it returned to the US in 2011. The model had already been tarnished previous to the resurrection of the 124 Spider. When folks acknowledge your model with an acronym resembling, Repair It Once more Tony; you already know you are going to have a troublesome time promoting vehicles.

A Bleak Future For Fiat

Fiat-124_Spider 2000 spider

FIAT already had its again towards the wall when it reentered the US. The FIATA would have needed to evolve to ensure that it to compete in an area that’s been dominated by one automotive for the final thirty years. Not solely evolve, however change its picture and the way in which it is perceived on the identical time. Think about the place Amazon can be right now if it continued to only promote books. Netflix would have been out of enterprise years in the past if it nonetheless delivered DVD’s to your property. The Fiat 124 Spider did not have to look to the Miata for achievement, it simply wanted to be particular once more.

The dual cam, gas injected engine discovered within the earlier Spiders was revolutionary in its day. The Spider was a pioneer of the automotive trade, with mechanical improvements nonetheless used til this present day. This most up-to-date 124 Spider was by no means something particular. It lacked the Italian aptitude that its Pininfarina designed predecessors captured prior to now. It simply proved to the auto trade that Fiat’s days are numbered within the U.S. With simply the 500X crossover left in its lineup, Fiat is hanging on for expensive life.

Nd Mx-5 Miata convertible
The Resilient Roadster: How The Mazda Miata Continues To Dominate Its Class For Over 30 years

Mazda understands, if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it.

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